Sunday, February 20, 2005

Serenity when?

I shall now pose to you a question recently asked of me:
What things make you feel peaceful?

When answering, try to keep 'calmness' in mind instead of happiness or jubilation. I first answered with "dopamine" (some people always need to make jokes) and then replied with, "Nature things/scenes, the moon, clouds, a rainbow, sunlight... " but I'm sure I'll think of more to add to the list.

Please share your answers by commenting (if it isn't too personal).


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nocturne in E flat minor by Chopin. Very beautiful, very calming. I listen to it after work.


4:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anarchist Song

We are bonded by the lunacy
of our times;
by the narratives we have made of each other,
unsatisfiable narratives,
brought to us by Gloria Steinem, anthropologists,
Freud, Castaneda – what they have made of us.

We let someone else’s dialect enter our love talk –
“relationship,” “independence,” “autonomy,” “parity,”
“power”; the list, the list –

“conscious” – “unconscious” – “ego” – “control” – “needs”
we cannot talk without the language that is not of the heart
systems words mixed in with
gaia words and nature words, and words that worship
everything but heart, so we are left at the alter of
“trust,” “distrust,” “archetypal,” “disempowered” -,
words we still use to explain the narrative
of “separation,” “compatible,” “incompatible,”
“workable,” “passive,” “aggressive” –
words made up by people who make a living
with them.

It wasn’t Wal-Mart
that defeated us, or Ford, or Dupont, it wasn’t Regan
or Roy Rogers; it was Margaret Mead, Bateson – it was words
“bind,” “double-bind,” “mother complex” –
words you still hear in the coffee shop, with the narrative
strewn across the table, with the human creature
splayed like a desperate cry, before the holding of hands,
the hands negotiated by the mouth filled with words;

we bought the language of
knives and left the language of kisses.
It was words that killed us, just words,

and now we see through them, tired as we are –
with the narrative we don’t dare ask of love.

Pier Giorgio Di Cicco

I read this poem today and found myself quite at peace when I was done. I realize that reading poetry makes me feel peaceful. Perhaps even more than reading, having someone else read to me inspires a feeling of peacefulness. I love listening to the voices of people close to me, whether it be family, friends, or lovers. I know some people meditate to reach a state of peacefulness and mental/emotional well-being. I would liken the experience of having someone read aloud to me to meditation. I just wish it happened more often!

I am sure there is some physiological explanation for why and how certain things make us feel peaceful, but it would be (for me at least – and I know of certain people who would disagree) self-defeating to dissect and critically analyze this idea to death. Some things are nice - just the way they are :)

6:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I was unaware that the heart had a language, and all with just lubs and dubs! Maybe you need to recode to binary or something…

While the above jest may seem to miss the point, I feel it is quite relevant to the above comment (containing a poem and the claim that there is a danger in analyzing things “to death”).

I’m not quite sure what the poem’s author means by “the language of the heart” and indeed, therein lies the flaw of the language: whatever it may be, if it is intended to stand in contrast to the language of science, then the language of the heart will be crucially lacking SPECIFICITY. As my quip above alludes, I have the sense that the language of the heart is supposed to be some means of communicating through gestures, simple speech, or other such methods which drastically reduce the amount of information contained in the communication. This is not necessarily a bad thing, indeed there is something to be said for timely and appropriate simplicity of speech/communication. However, simplicity, by nature of reducing information content, cannot assure several important qualities of communication: 1) complete understanding of the message and 2) reduction in the uncertainty associated with the message’s veracity and the motives of the speaker.

Maybe the poem’s author was correct regarding the “false prophetry” of the scientists and theorists he cites, but to say that a single scientist or theory is wrong should not be to denounce all of science.

Furthermore, I’d like to address the idea suggested that it’s possible to analyze things “to death”. I certainly agree that for some people (who have experienced a particular set of environmental factors through their development) a specific and scientific description of some phenomena (rainbows, love, etc) will diminish the experience of those phenomena (the evidence of the above comment’s author proves as much). However, it can also be shown through observation of Darren and I that the contrary can be true: for some people (who have experienced a different set of environmental factors through their development), deeper scientific understanding of phenomena can elicit great joy and wonder at the magnificence of existence.

Since both types of reaction are possible, the question becomes: which reaction should we promote as a society? I feel the decision is fairly clear: scientific understanding/appreciation can provide the same sense of awe and beauty a folk understanding can provide, yet with the added advantage of providing useful understanding of the nature of reality and its causal relations. Therefore, it behooves us as a society (even those of you who currently lack the ability to see wonder in science) to provide the social/cultural environments for our children that will engender the scientific view that would allow them to have the best of both worlds.

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do not disagree with any of the comments above. However, the point in question is in regard to individual peacefulness, which, as far as I know, is not readily quantifiable.

I do not believe I "currently lack the ability to see wonder in science," as I am consistently awestruck when "deeper scientific understanding of phenomena" is revealed to me. And yes, when this occurs, it does elicit a sense of great joy. However, as was explicitly stated in Darren's initial blog, "When answering, try to keep 'calmness' in mind instead of happiness or jubilation." While I recognize the value (socially, culturally, scientifically, or otherwise) of "analyzing things to death", I cannot say that such endeavors make me feel particularly ‘peaceful.'

3:18 PM  

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